Have you seen Swiss balls in your gym and been wanting to give it a try?  Maybe you recently purchased a Swiss ball for your home but aren’t sure what to do with it.  Maybe you’re just looking to switch up your current routine and try something different. Well, this workout is perfect for you (yes you!)! Swiss balls make an excellent addition to anyone’s exercise program.

The Swiss ball is a versatile piece of equipment.  Swiss balls are large exercise balls that can be used to work every muscle in the body.  Swiss balls make for an effective workout for any level because they challenge our bodies’ internal balance system, something called proprioception. 

When you exercise with a Swiss ball, the ball’s spherical shape shifts underneath your body, forcing the stabilizing muscles of your body to help you balance.  This will in turn improve your balance and stabilization not only with exercise, but also with your everyday life.


In addition to rocking your next set of lunges or step ups, everyday tasks like balancing a laundry basket while walking up the stairs will become easier after training with this modality.

Swiss balls come in various sizes.  One of the first steps in your Swiss ball workout should be to select the appropriate size ball.  Selecting the appropriate size ball for you is relatively easy.

When you sit on the top of the Swiss ball, your feet should be in full contact with the ground and you should have around a little larger than a 90 degree angle at your knees and your hips.

If you roll down to your shoulders and upper back on the ball and squeeze your glutes, you should be able to create a straight line with your body from knees to hips to shoulders.  Selecting the appropriate size ball will allow you to maximize your results using this piece of equipment.

Swiss ball workouts can also be customized to fit any level of fitness. As you progress and become stronger and more balanced, adding additional balance challenges will help you to continue seeing results. This Swiss ball workout is set up in a circuit fashion.

Training in a circuit fashion will help you to increase your caloric burn and help you gain cardiorespiratory benefits in a short amount of time.  The key to these workouts are to be deliberate with your movements (complete each repetition slowly and controlled) and to minimize your rest time in between exercises.

swiss ball workout-Sarah2

Beginner workout

Begin with 3 sets of 12-15 repetitions of these exercises!

1. Ball plank
2. Ball Squat
3. Ball push up
4. Ball row
5. Ball roll outs
6. Hamstring curl
7. Military press
8. Ball crunch

Intermediate workout

Begin by completing 2-3 sets of 15-20 repetitions of these exercises!

1. Ball lunges with a twist
2. Hamstring curls
3. Chest press on ball
4. Ball push up
5. Cable row
6. Lat pull down
7. Reverse fly
8. Ball plank

Advanced workout

Complete 2-3 sets of 15-20 repetitions of these exercises!

1. Single leg ball squat
2. Ball lunges with a twist
3. Ball plank
4. Chest press on ball
5. Ball push up with a jackknife
6. Ball crunch
7. Cable Row
8. Cable lat pull down
9. Hip abduction
10. Military Press
11. Ball lateral raise
12. Ball passes

These circuit workouts can be completed 2-3 times per week in addition to your normal cardio routine.  For maximal results, give your body a day of rest in between completing your Swiss ball workouts.

In addition to selecting the correct size ball, it is really important that you keep your core braced in during each of the exercises.  As you perform your workout, consciously pull your belly button in toward your spine and contract your abdominals. This will create an internal brace, continuing to work to strengthen and lengthen your midsection, and increasing your caloric burn.

The following will give you brief instructions on how to properly perform each of the exercises listed above.  Be sure to try each of the exercises and let me know which ones you like!


1. Ball squat: Set the Swiss ball up against the small of your back, and gently press the ball into a wall.  Suck your belly button in and slowly lower your body toward the ground, bending at your knees and hips.
2. Single leg squat: Complete this exercise similarly to the ball squat, but only using one leg.
3. Hamstring curl: Lie on your back on the floor with your heels on the Swiss ball.  Squeeze your glutes to lift your hips off the floor.  Bend your knees to bring your heels underneath your body.  Slowly extend your legs, lower your hips, and repeat.
4. Ball lunges with a twist: Grasp the Swiss ball in both hands.  Take a large step forward into a lunge.  As you enter the midpoint of the exercise with knees bent, slowly rotate your upper body and Swiss ball over the front leg.  Slowly return your torso to center and step forward.  Repeat on the opposite side.
5. Hip abduction: Lie on your side on the ball with your knees bent on the floor. Engage your abdominals and straighten your top leg. Then raise your top leg until it is level with your pelvis, working the abductors (outside of your thigh).


1. Ball push up: Place your shins on the Swiss ball and position your hands on the ground underneath your shoulders.  Bend your elbows to complete a push up.  Ensure your core is engaged and your back remains flat during this exercise.
2. Ball push up with a jackknife: complete a push up with your feet on the ball.  When you complete the push up, bring your knees in toward your chest, contracting your abdominals.
3. Chest press on swiss ball: grab two dumbbells (use less weight than you would on a bench) and complete a chest press lying on a Swiss ball.  Be sure you engage your glutes to create a straight line from ears to knees.

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1. Ball row: Lie on your chest or abdominals on the ball (depending on your comfort) with a dumbbell in each hand.  Exhale and slowly squeeze shoulder blades together as your bend your elbows.
2. Cable row: Sit on the top of the ball facing a cable machine.  Exhale and gently pull back in a rowing motion, beginning the movement by squeezing your shoulder blades together.
3. Lat Pull down: Set yourself up next to a lat or cable machine.  Sit on top of the ball and grasp the handles, pulling down and squeezing in between your shoulder blades.


1. Military Press: Sit on top of the Swiss ball and press arms overhead.  Use a neutral grip if you have any shoulder issues.
2. Lateral raise: sit on top of the ball and with straight arms lift dumbbells up with palms facing down.
3. Reverse fly: Sit on top of the ball facing a cable machine.  Round your arms you’re your palms facing in toward each other (think about making a “C” shape with both arms) and slowly pull the weights back, squeezing your shoulder blades together.


1. Ball crunch: Lay with your back on the ball and tuck your pelvis under.  Exhale and slowly raise your shoulders off the ball in a crunching motion.  Repeat.
2. Ball passes: Lay on the floor on your back with arms and legs extended.  Place the Swiss ball between your legs and use your abdominals to raise your legs toward your arms.  As your legs pass the midline of your body, pass the ball to your arms.
Bring your arms overhead, tap the ground with the ball, and pass the ball back to your legs.  It is very important during this exercise to keep your low back pressed into the ground underneath you.  This will keep your abdominals maximally contracted.
3. Ball plank: Place your elbows and forearms on the Swiss ball and complete a plank, holding your abdominals tight to keep your body aligned properly.
4. Ball roll outs: Begin with your knees on the floor and forearms on the ball.  Squeeze in your abdominals and roll out onto your elbows on the ball.  Slowly pull back and return to the starting position.  Be sure that you keep your abdominals tight so you do not arch your lower back during this movement.


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